This painting, completed for the Catmasutra II exhibition weaves the Catmasutra cat in and around Chinese culture! Singapore being such an urbanized city, it's easy to get carried away with all the modernity and cultural imperialism of Western culture. But somehow, everything always returns to its origin after making a cycle or several cycles. Haha I think growing up with Chinese martial arts flicks had created more of an impression than studying Mandarin in school! Jiǔ is the Chinese word for all alcoholic beverages, with the same character used in Japanese (pronounced sake) and Korean (pronounced ju), and it is one beverage commonly found in martial arts flicks (notably Drunken Fist, Drunken Monkey, etc haha). Jiǔ also had a great impact on Chinese artists as many of the masterpieces were created in states of drunkenness! (hmmm... what was I drinking when I was painting this?) The Saint of Calligraphy , Xizhi was unable to outdo his most outstanding work, "Orchid Pavilion Prologue" because that piece was completed when he was drunk! wahahaha! And Chinese tea, it's an art and let's just say I have to catch up with my heritage... in a big way!
I also remember as a kid visiting the neighborhood Chinese medicine shop, and being fascinated with the huge chest of tiny drawers all containing different kinds of herbs. I'm always surprise how by matching different herbs together, you can produce the same compounds in western medicine, but in a more holistic way. Chinese medicine views the body and nature as an inseparable unit, as is the relationship between different organs, tissues, senses, etc. The philosophy behind it is based on Taoist concepts of Yin and Yang, and the aim is to restore harmony or balance to the body. It's funny that I became interested in the ideas of Taoism only when I was studying in Canada!
Of course, there is the famous Huang Fei Hong movie in 1990, the legendary Chinese folk hero, a great martial arts exponent as well as a healer (with chest upon chest of medicine drawers, haha) . I remember walking down Chinatown in Vancouver and was immediately intrigued by the movie poster. Being a sucker for the martial arts genre (which had been dead since the early 80's), the poster was refreshingly calm, quiet, full of confidence and controlled energy, and indeed, the movie heralded the revival of the genre. It was a big hit then and relaunched the period martial arts drama. The next revival of sorts was "Storm Riders" followed by "Hidden Dragon, Crouching Tiger". Hopefully, the next breakthrough will re-define the genre further.
Take a break. Have some Chinese tea. Then get drunk on Maotai (that's really quite disgusting, actually) ;)
Sketched this out last year! It was one of those frenzied moments when I was inspired to put lines on canvas one after another... haha And of course, once that energy is spent, then I have a little trouble putting paint on them. It's like the inspired moments have used up all the energy required to finish the paintings. Not sure which approach is better - to complete one painting in its entirety or sketch a few all at one go...
The inspiration for this is of course sake - barrels of them! Wahahaha So this is Catmasutra branded "jiu" Good for the soul and the replenishment of the catmasutra spirit!!
Apparently sake is a common offering to the gods. These barrels of sake are all found in Kamakura Temple - good sign!
Inspired and drunk, this piece is finally completed! It's funny when the dozen of times I have looked at this sketch and I can't find its potential. Perhaps the trick is to do a little at a time, breathing life into the lines. And it'll grow with you, and the recurring thought of drinking sake from the barrel certainly helps the process. When the cat finally emerges from the barrel, it's party time!!
"Not until you become a stranger to yourself will you be able to make acquaintance with the Friend." - Mark Twain.
It's funny when you finally recognize who you are. That's when you realize that you have been doing remedial lessons for who knows how long, repeating in each class until you finally pass the exams. I think we learn about life in two stages. First we have to grasp the lessons intellectually, and with time and more remedial lessons, we will finally understand them emotionally from within ourselves. Then we'll be able to move as one and that's when we know whatever decision we make can never be wrong.
There are always two journeys that we take on the road – one internal and the other external:) At the end of the road, it is the former that matters the most as it leads you closer to who and what you really are. So don't be stuck with what you feel you can outgrow. If the old methods don't work anymore, it's time to graduate to the next class. Travel as far as you can, and you'll realize there's no such things as coincidences! Everything is happening for a reason and a purpose. We have been creating our past without really knowing it. Haha Perhaps, it's about time we create our future knowingly. There is always a choice.
It's a funny feeling - this is. Today doesn't have to end as I don't have to go to work tomorrow. And tomorrow doesn't have to end as well. I am a full time artist now, well at least for now, it's complete freedom once again. Maybe that's how my cats feel each day. Living completely in the now. I'm going to savor every minute of this haha! My favorite quote - "Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today."-Mark Twain.
paul on mark twain on nut (in more innocent times)
In certain trying circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity furnishes a relief denied even to prayer...
Happiness is always within us. Look inside and you know it's there. If we have to struggle for it, then we must wonder what is the value of such happiness. The cats know this! Haha We must wonder if we're even fishing at the right place.
It's so important to remain true to oneself. Only then can we really attain happiness from what we learn and do, and the personal growth we derive from it. It's especially true when we're doing things we know we're meant to do. On the most basic level, it may be an inclination, or an instinct that we're good at certain things. It's easy for artists for they know from early on, and yet it is difficult as there are definitely other professions such as being a doctor or lawyer, that society encourages more. Whatever it is, never settle for what is not you. That is what a cat is good at haha! Don't risk living life lethargically - it's not worth it.
Time to light your fire...
Everybody is born to do something, some more obvious others, but finding our talents and using them is our birth right! Happiness and enthusiasm can come only from doing what you like and feeling that you are helping others to grow by doing it.
Ever wonder why a cat always look so happy and contented? One reason may be that the cat always lives in the here and now. As the old Buddhist saying goes, "If you have a problem you cannot solve, why worry about it? If you have a problem you can solve, then why worry about it?" If you know your true nature just as a cat does (a cat never has to question its own nature, haha), it just means you don't need to put too much focus on the external situation- just be - like a catmasutra cat! Wahahaha
Whatever we feel we need externally, we'll always worry on how to get it. Somehow without realizing it, we equate acquiring things with happiness such as a better job, a bigger house, a new car, etc. Haha Well, if you look within yourself and search a little, you realize very little is needed to be happy. Just look at Angel - a creature that moves with its entire being and not conflicted in any way. When it sleeps, it sleeps; When it plays, it plays; When it hunts, it hunts! It's a catmasutra state of mind with the "eyes-wide-shut and ear-to-ear grin", a concoction of childhood innocence cum devil-may-care bravado, with a rich topping of self-belief and unpretentiousness! It's something we all had as children before we subject ourselves to "real-world" programming, and forget our true nature.
If you are not anxious to attain all your temporal desires, then you don't have to worry about the future, and with that you can let go of unnecessary hopes and fears. When you are naturally happy from within (like a catmasutra cat), everything else that you accomplish can be viewed as a special bonus, an extra sweetness to life - and nothing more! Enjoy them for the personal progress and maturity that you gain. They're never a substitute for true happiness!
"Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone, you may still exist, but you have ceased to live."-Mark Twain. The desire to ride... where does it come from? Riding carry its own meanings, enrapture you with more truths than illusions haha. If you understand it, you'll know it's different from driving a car - "Scooter philosophy." "In a car, everybody is safe and sound. A climate controlled, weather resistant compartment, listening to a tune on the radio and watching the scenery through the windows. Watching the Movie pass them by. And they’re inside. All buckled up and cozy. Detached."
"But on a bike, you’re not watching the Movie – you’re in the Movie. The wind is whipping. The bugs are kissing. You’re in it. The Movie is everywhere you are. It rains, you get wet. Sun shines, you get dry. Oil slick on a curve, and you’re tasting gravel for a mid-day snack." When you desire to ride just because you desire it (not because you can't afford a car, or that it's just more convenient), you would have come into direct contact with the journey. "Need to clear your thoughts, get your head straight? Put two wheels to the asphalt and roll it on. Just you and you alone living the Dream. You are the Dream – the Experience. You get to make the choices..."- John Sparger.
The red scooter - I finally found the inspiration to complete it haha! I have this image about the ride for some time already. I sketched this out last year and finally, it's done (okay, a few more touch-ups here and there)! The essence of the ride is really this feeling of freedom, although this is not possible during rush hours - then, it's just about moving much faster than all the other vehicles!).
Sometimes you wonder if there is anything left to conquer but mind space... It is one of the only territories left that really belongs to us, and yet everybody wants a piece of it. Businesses, branded goods, advertisements, the media, governments, office politics, all in their various ways are trying to stake a claim on your mind space. Mind space is like a programmable hard disk; If you are not careful, you let other people run so many ridiculous programs in you that you don't even realize they're there (not unlike spyware or malware). You do it without having the faintest clue why you are doing it; it just seems like it's the most normal thing to do!
So it makes sense to re-format our mind space once in a while. Do something different. Get out of the dark place. Breathe. Take a risk. Live your own life. Break the circuit. Buy Norton anti-virus... whatever but take action. It is not easy to rise above the system and see things clearly but when there's an impasse, a crossroad - that's when we have the opportunity to choose...
Just completed this commissioned piece recently. Okay, so I added the flower and heart to better showcase Vicky's personality. It's actually a Halloween beanie that Vicky is wearing, and I suspect that is one of the reasons why she is a bit grouchy in this photo! But she does it anyway just to humor her owner... After all, she is the one who chose her own "master"!
Every cat tells a story haha. And sometimes, you gotta wonder about these things. As the story goes, Vicky the white cat with beautiful blue eyes resided next door before she decided to adopt her new owner. First she introduced herself by appearing to the owner in the yard. A few days of this ritual, and she positioned herself at the doorstep, always in time to greet the owner she wanted to adopt. And before long, Vicky ventured inside the house, never breaking anything, and never dirtying anything. The friendship grew and soon, the actual owner has to come over each night to bring Vicky home!
Then one day, the owner said to her neighbour, “Do you think you would want to adopt this cat?” And with that the rest is history. Cat and new owners live happily ever after. It’s also funny that my first cats were all called “Vicky”! And now I have the pleasure of presenting “Vicky” – catmasutra style!!!
If you want a catmasutra/dogmasutra (which I'm trying to develop) portrait of your cat or dog, then contact me! Haha.. It can be any pet that you have and that would be interesting to do as well!!! Hmmm...
Why is getting caught in the rain such a funny affair? Haha.. I have just parked the car when the rain started pelting down. A woman was crossing the road in a hurry and there was a big smile on her face. Several other people got out of their cars and hurried towards the shelter and they have a big smile on their faces too! Maybe it was the surprise that they were caught out this way, but I suspect that in that few seconds (or minutes depending on your luck) that you are scrambling towards dry land, you are actually having fun!
You can't blame anyone for the weather, and it's almost like nature's way of saying, "Go on... make a fool of yourself! " I sat in the car and I could not resist taking my camera out and squeezing off a couple of shots. I was actually laughing to myself and enjoying the scene. And it wasn't your everyday rain, but more like buckets of water being emptied on us over and over again. You wonder sometimes, like how Halo must wonder, when I bathe her haha! Cats tend to wear "fur coats", if you know what I mean. When they're wet, they actually look skinny! Well, Halo no longer has that problem! Anyway, I suspect that laughter in the rain is a universal phenomenon and who knows, with the right perspective, rain is that break in life that we need once in a while!